2:00PM Water Cooler 4/28/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto caught up with each other on a call Thursday after the NAFTA panic. The two ‘welcomed U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s statement that he is prepared to renegotiate the agreement to the benefit of all three countries,’ according to a readout from Trudeau’s office” [Politico].



“How Dare Chelsea Clinton, a Well-Educated, Accomplished Woman, Share Her Opinions” [Cosmopolitan]. “Chelsea ‘had a tendency to talk a lot, and at length, not least about Chelsea,’ writes T. A. Frank in Vanity Fair. ‘But you couldn’t interrupt, not even if you’re on TV at NBC, where she was earning $600,000 a year at the time.’ Imagine that: A woman who is being paid handsomely for voicing her insights, and you can’t even interrupt her? Unbelievable.”

2016 Post Mortem

“House Democrats bury 2016 autopsy” [Politico]. “The report [authored by Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.)] provides recommendations on how the DCCC should modernize its data collection and overhaul its media operation, according to sources who were briefed on it. The document is also said to criticize the organization for the lack of diversity in consultants whom the DCCC employs. Maloney offered suggestions for how DCCC should regroup ahead of the 2018 midterms, including hiring someone specifically in charge of diversifying the group’s consulting ranks…. The Maloney report did not criticize specific members of leadership, according to sources.”

Trump Transition

“Why Democrats need to stop concern-trolling Trump about the deficit” [The Week]. “If the additional dollars spur the creation of additional goods and services, then they’ll absorb the new money supplies. Only when everyone already has a good paying job, and all the productive factors in the economy are being put to full use, will the newly created money inevitably chase the same amount of goods and services that existed before. And that’s what causes prices to rise.”

Democrats in Disarray

“I have spent the last three weeks driving around the deindustrialized midwest… And what I am here to say is that the midwest is not an exotic place. It isn’t a benighted region of unknowable people and mysterious urges. It isn’t backward or hopelessly superstitious or hostile to learning. It is solid, familiar, ordinary America, and Democrats can have no excuse for not seeing the wave of heartland rage that swamped them last November” [Thomas Frank, The Guardian]. “The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party’s neoliberal turn. Every time our liberal leaders signed off on some lousy trade deal, figuring that working-class people had “nowhere else to go,” they were making what happened last November a little more likely.” Moreover:

The way I see it, the critical test for our system will come late next year. The billionaire great-maker in the Oval Office has already turned out to be an incompetent buffoon, and his greatest failures are no doubt yet to come. By November 2018, the winds of change will be in full hurricane shriek, and unless the Democratic Party’s incompetence is even more profound than it appears to be, the D’s will sweep to some sort of mid-term triumph.

But when “the resistance” comes into power in Washington, it will face this question: this time around, will Democrats serve the 80% of us that this modern economy has left behind? Will they stand up to the money power? Or will we be invited once again to feast on inspiring speeches while the tasteful gentlemen from JP Morgan foreclose on the world?

The Democrat establishment has already given its answer: That’s why Clinton supporter and #MedicareForAll hater Ossoff has $8 million dollars to appeal to suburban Repubicans in Geogia 6, and Sanders supporters in Kansas (Thompson) and Montana (Quist) get zilch. Of course, the Democrat establishment is profoundly incompetent, as Shattered proves, so they may well blow 2018, as well as 2016.

“The First 117 Days of Chuck Schumer” [RealClearPolitics]. A bill of particulars drawn up by a Republican, but still very funny.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“‘Fallen! Fallen Is Babylon The Great!'” [Rod Dreher, The American Conservative]. Shout-outs to Chris Arnade, Anne Coulter, and Ian Welsh. We live in strange times.

Stats Watch

GDP, Q1 2017 (Advance Reading): “The weakest showing since the last recession for consumer spending held down first-quarter GDP which could manage only a 0.7 percent rate of annualized growth. Consumer spending rose at only 0.3 percent which is by far the worst showing since no change in fourth-quarter 2009” [Econoday]. “Weakness in consumer spending is strongly associated with recession but not other data in the report. At a 13.7 percent pace, residential investment posted a second straight very strong quarter. And in a rare show of strength, nonresidential investment, which has been subdued, jumped at a 9.4 percent rate with both structures and equipment showing unusual strength. A surge in mining investment is a standout of the report.” And: “I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed only moderate deceleration from last quarter. First quarter GDP seems plagued with seasonal adjustment issues – as low numbers occur often since the end of the Great Recession” [Econintersect]. And: “The first-quarter GDP releases have tended to under-perform over the past few years. Growth in the first quarter of 2016 was held to 0.8% while there was contraction for the first quarter of 2014. Although adverse weather conditions have had an impact, there are also important doubts surrounding seasonal adjustments” [Economic Calendar]. And: “[T]he soft Q1 GDP data is part of a recent trend of weak first quarters, and was mostly due to weak PCE and inventory adjustment – no worries” [Calculated Risk]. And: “Despite the anemic first-quarter performance, the U.S. economy’s prospects for the rest of the year appear solid” [WaPo]. .And: “Don’t panic” [New York Times].

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, April 2017: “Business activity is once again strong in the Chicago area” [Econoday]. “Business activity is once again strong in the Chicago area.” And: “above consensus expectations of a figure around 56.5, the third successive monthly increase, and the strongest reading since January 2015” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “The results of this survey continue to agree with district Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys – and aligns with the overall trend of the ISM manufacturing survey. And they were ALL wrong when the hard data came out for last month” [Econintersect].

Employment Cost Index, Q1 2017: “It was way back in the fourth-quarter of 2007 that the employment cost index last jumped 0.8 percent, as it did in the first quarter. The surge is split nearly evenly between wages & salaries .. and benefits” [Econoday]. “Pressure in this report comes at a time when the unemployment rate is very low, at 4.5 percent, and reports are building, including from the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, that labor is in short supply especially skilled labor. This pressure has yet to appear in average hourly earnings or consumer prices but this may only be a question of time. If wage inflation does begin to pick up, we can look back at this report as the first indication.”

Consumer Sentiment, April 2017: “backed off from strength” [Econoday]. “The report continues to note strong polarization on expectations with Democrats decidedly pessimistic and Republicans optimistic. The swing group, independents, are solidly in the optimistic camp. Confidence readings surged following Donald Trump’s election and have since platued, and their strength has yet to translate to strength in consumer spending which, as illustrated in this morning’s GDP report, is very soft.”

Rail: ” If coal and grain are removed from the analysis, rail over the last 6 months been declining around 5% – but this week declined 0.4 % (meaning that the predicitive economic elements declined year-over-year). Also consider rail movements are below 2015 levels – even though they are above 2016 levels” [Econintersect].

Shipping: “There are no accusations of any wrongdoing and no evidence [DryShips] or its CEO [George Economou] engineered a one-week stock rally that briefly pushed its shares up 1,500% last November for no apparent reason (!!!). But the ability of DryShips to reap ongoing gains from the runup, both for the carrier and Mr. Economou, highlight how the complicated structures of vessel ownership and management may be more important to bulk carriers than the movement of supply and demand in commodity shipping markets” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle (?): “[A] few companies are getting closer to mass production of higher-order tissues (bone, cartilage, organs) and other individually tailored items, including implants. This kind of precision medicine, treating patients based on their genes, environment, and lifestyle, could herald the end of long organ donor lists and solve other problems, too” [Bloomberg]. Reading the story, it’s not clear how close “getting closer” really is. I’m unsure whether I should file this under The Bezzle, or not. Readers?

The Bezzle: “Goodbye Amazon…And Good Riddance” [Princeton Audio]. “We aspire to be Craft Audio pioneers leading a reclamation of local manufacturing in small town Wisconsin; technical innovators who dare to question stagnant orthodoxies that compromise sound quality; and champions of a return to cherished traditions of American handcrafting. We’ve achieved that–and more. … We make [our speakers] one at a time, to our customer’s desired spec. If all goes smoothly, this process takes about six weeks. Amazon relentlessly pushed us to accept lead-times that were typically only four days, and sometimes demanded fulfillment of orders in as little as 24 hours–including delivery.” And then there’s this:

Amazon has a reputation for being a bully, and they strong-armed us into prioritizing their orders over customer orders that came in to us through our own website–something that really set our collective teeth on edge–and threatened us with steep fines if we could not accommodate their ridiculous turnaround times. Those fines not only wiped out our slim profit margins, but caused us to actually lose money on each speaker sold through them. When we attempted to slightly raise our prices in order to cope with our own rising costs of production, they said no.

I’ll repeat that: Amazon.com, a reseller, told us that we were not allowed to raise the price of our own product for any reason. It was not open for discussion. In fact, the one and only time that anyone at Princeton Audio ever spoke in person to anyone from Amazon.com was the day we ended our relationship with them over the phone. Prior to that, our Amazon buyer had refused to ever reply to any of our questions or requests for support. Like I said, nice folks, huh?

Wowsers. Readers, have any of you ever experienced this?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 51 Neutral (previous close: 50, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 35 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 28 at 12:01pm. “Put and Call Options” are registering Extreme Greed. Safe Haven Demand is registering Extreme Fear. Mr. Market placing a bet with his broker on Line 1, with the realtor handling his mountain redoubt in Montana on hold?

Health Care

“By this time, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Republicans have not repealed Obamacare because a lot of Republicans do not want to repeal Obamacare” [Washington Examiner]. Which should be unsurprising, since ObamaCare is a Republican plan. Moreover, it’s the worst possible Republican plan, since Republicans have found it impossible to crapify further. (Of course, the administration could be doing its own little bit to accelerate the death spiral, but those effects won’t show up for awhile. Still, I paid my “shared responsibility” penalty this year!)


“More details being made public in WV water crisis settlement” [Gazette-Mail].

Class Warfare

“As a pilot, I’ve seen up close that global companies skirting American labor rules have to be stopped” [Quartz]. “Even after posting record profits last year and signing off on millions for its top executives, [DHL] is pushing its contracted cargo carriers in the US to provide service at substandard rates. The enormous pressure trickles down to pilots like me, leading to lower standards in pay, benefits, and quality of life found at iconic American shipping companies such as UPS and FedEx…. Despite the mounting criticism it has faced over its own labor practices, Amazon is now taking its cue from DHL and using similar tactics that degrade standards for American workers. In hopes of expanding its new Prime Air venture, the company has hired two DHL cargo contractors, while also unveiling plans to use DHL’s existing facilities for its air delivery operations.”

“Meet the People Who Train the Robots (to Do Their Own Jobs) [New York Times]. “We spoke with five people — a travel agent, a robotics expert, an engineer, a customer-service representative and a scriptwriter, of sorts — who have been put in this remarkable position. More than most, they understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of artificial intelligence and how the technology is changing the nature of work.” Ah, “technoology”…

News of the Wired

“Gender and verbs across 100,000 stories: a tidy analysis” [Variance Explained]. With handy charts.

“Lab-grown ‘mini-brains’ mimic brain development” [IEEE Spectrum].

” I thought it would be fun to analyse my own pathetic handwriting from the point of view of a designer and actually point out why it sucks. So here goes” [Medium]. I’m a real outlier, here. I use Apple Pen on my iPad — there had better be a linux version — to take notes and annotate photographs, and the initial look was so ugly that I deliberately re-engineered by handwriting, and now my handwriting is (I think) less ugly and sloppy. The downside is that I have trouble writing my signature properly (that is, so that it conforms with my old signature).

“More exposure to vegetation linked with lower mortality rates in women” [Harvard School of Public Health]. “Boston, MA ─ Women in the U.S. who live in homes surrounded by more vegetation appear to have significantly lower mortality rates than those who live in areas with less vegetation, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). During an eight-year study period, there were fewer deaths among women who lived in the greenest surroundings—their mortality rate was 12% lower than those living in homes in the least green areas…. “We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates,” said Peter James, research associate in the Harvard Chan School Department of Epidemiology. ‘We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the apparent benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health.'”

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Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here.

And here’s today’s plant (AM):

AM writes: “Yesterday’s plant reminded me that I took some pictures on Earth Day in NYC. Spring has sprung in Tribeca!! A cherry (??) tree at Trinity Church…”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Altandmain

    I’ve been thinking about why do middle level managers often treat their subordinates so poorly? Is this a form of “virtue signalling” to senior management that they are ruthless enough to ascend to senior management?

    By no means do I mean that all middle managers to this, but a very alarming percentage certainly do.

    It seems to go beyond the ordinary ugliness of office politics, bureaucracy, etc that you expect within any workplace. I mean you do expect middle management to be the elite enforcement mechanism, keeping lowly peons in place, but there are many who seem to take a rather sadistic pleasure in dominating over employees.

    Ultimately, I think the problem arises from the top, which always dictates a business culture, but you can see that poor leadership filters down. Is it than in a ruthless environment that only the most ruthless, no necessarily the top performers get on top?

    Re: That Democratic Post Mortem Report

    Yeah they are in denial about what is really causing their problems. They don’t want to admit that they are the problem.

    1. Huey Long

      I think the sadistic treatment of subordinates by some middle managers is less of a virtue signalling phenomenon and more of an expression of some propaganda narratives that are pervasive in our culture that date back to the days of Fredrick Winslow Taylor.

      Some examples:

      -The narrative of the successful sadistic sports coach who screams at his players and fines them for the pettiest of offenses.

      -The narrative of the “lazy worker,” and how said lazy worker needs the constant threat of being fired/automated in order to be productive.

      -The narrative of “authority can do whatever it wants and is always right” that has become pervasive in our culture, especially following 9/11.

      But, back to virtue signalling, I do think that is a major component as well especially as it becomes harder, and harder to hit the growth targets and P&L numbers that senior management mandates. Perhaps the guys strutting around the office acting like former basketball coach Bobby Knight are perceived as having more worth in an environment where no managers are hitting their numbers vs. a manager who treats their people right.

      1. Altandmain

        A sad reflection of the Ayn Rand cult seems to describe the working environment of the US.

        It is not any different I’m Canada. It sucks being unemployed right now, but if I get a terrible boss, it will also suck although financially I will be better off.

        I wonder if the productivity would go up if we promoted bosses based on how well they treated their subordinates. Probably and likely more than offset any other losses. Sadly much like how Henry Ford proved he would be profitable if his workers were paid enough to purchase what they made, business today is about rent extraction for the rich.

        1. ambrit

          Sadly, no one thinks about the theory of limits today.
          As the manager responded when asked; “How much is enough?” “I’ll tell you when someone stops me.”

      2. Procopius

        John Dos Passos pointed out that robber barons and evil men like Old Henry Ford misrepresented Frederick Winslow Taylor and misused his techniques.

        “THE principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee.” Frederick Winslow Taylor, opening sentence, Principles of Scientific Management, 1911.

        By the way, don’t be taken in by Old Henry’s announcement that he was going to pay his workers $5 a day. He mostly didn’t. Very few men were able to fulfill all the conditions he put on that promise.

        1. Adam Eran

          Worse still: Taylor cooked the books to make his “experiments” fit his hypotheses. (See Matthew Stewart’s The Management Myth: Debunking Modern Business Philosophy for the whole story).

          The entire “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist” school of management is founded on fraud.

    2. Art Eclectic

      It absolutely flows down from the top. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a great manager with crappy leadership at the top. You just have to decide how YOU are going to lead. Your impact will follow you to your next job with better top management.

      My junior team are the ones who do the actual work. My job as their manager is to clear the path so they can do their jobs.

      1. MLS

        I think you’re right on the leadership angle, at least from my anecdotal experience.

        And very few middle managers know how to be good leaders. Yes there are those that are sadistic or just like bossing people or look to use the position as an excuse to be nasty to others (power goes to their heads, so to speak) but I doubt there’s a ton of nefarious intent here. It’s more likely just inexperience in the role or lack of knowing how to be effective as a manager.

    3. Oregoncharles

      It might be that they’re stuck in middle management and are taking their resentment out of their inferiors – an potential competition.

      1. ambrit

        The definition of “middle” in “middle management” has changed over time. I now see hourly employees being tasked with jobs that salaried employees used to carry out. Many in “middle management” now see clearly that true “management” views them as just as expendable as lowly hourly employees.
        Play a mind game/experiment with some salaried “middle management” people you might know. Ask them to figure out the average hourly compensation they get and compare that with an average compensation for an hourly paid floor worker in their business. A version of the old song chorus is applicable; “I owe my soul to the company.”
        “Sixteen Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford;
        Hear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5VMZqgVzRo

        1. JTFaraday

          They call all kinds of administrative positions “managerial” now just so they can make them overtime exempt. Especially true in environments where there is also some sort of union presence.

    4. Allegorio

      Worked at AIG in the early 90’s under Hank Greenberg with his son-in-law who made acting like a son of a bitch a virtue. It is definitely a top down phenomenon. All those nepotistically privileged elites trying to prove that they are indeed worthy of their positions even if they got there through connections and not hard work, not pampered sycophants but tough guys. Definitely virtue signally, and of course all the sycophants working for him practiced the same style of management.

      1. MLS

        I understated the impact of top-down culture in my earlier comment, that definitely plays a role too.

        I doubt it’s as common as headlines would suggest based on events at large companies, however. At many mid/small businesses that I know (public and private) top managers up through the C-suite are quite conscientious and create a good work environment for their employees.

      2. Altandmain

        Sounds like a toxic culture at AIG. It is a sad reflection of the state of the US that such a company was bailed out. Their mismanagement no doubt contributed to the problem l’s facing the US to begin with. Society would have been better if they had failed as a result of their actions I would wager.

        1. Procopius

          I think it was complicated. From reading Yve’s description of the company in ECONned I got the impression that the bulk of the company, which was a real insurance company, was actually top notch. I’m a little surprised, then, to hear that they actually were as bad as that. I thought it was basically only the rather small derivatives operation, headed by Joe Cassano, that was so toxic. Or maybe the culture became toxic after Greenberg became a megalomaniac. He seems to have developed into a weird person by the time he was bought/kicked out. I think society would be better off if all the oversized financial organizations that were endangered that year had been allowed to fail, but that was not allowed because it would have been capitalism.

    5. Christopher Fay

      The are-they-corrupt-or-are-they-incompetent wing of the party is anticipating congressional gains in 2018 so I think they will try running out the clock on defenestrating themselves.

    6. tony

      A lot of people enjoy hurting and dominating others and are willing to pay the price for it. Often those people end up near the bottom of the dominance hierarchy, but since they have such a need for power, they tend to be hard workers. They often end up in middle management, since they are ambitious, but are usually not very good managers.

      When I was doing early research in the area of character disturbance, I happened to encounter a president of a small corporation who boasted to me quite frequently that he was aware that if he weren’t successful as a ruthless businessman, he would probably have ended up in prison for most of his life. He was well aware of his aggressive predispositions and the ruthless aggressiveness that permeated all of his interpersonal relations. One day I witnessed this man call a female subordinate into his office and begin to berate her in a most vicious fashion. The degree to which he brandished rage had me shaking a bit in my own boots. After he finished berating her, he warned her of dire consequences if she did not accede to his demands and then dismissed her.

      As soon as the woman left the room he looked at me and began to smile and chuckle. He expressed that his pre-planned expression of rage was meant to instill fear in the woman and that he was sure she would be more conscientious about doing his bidding because of it. He also expressed disgust for her weakness. His deliberate use of rage when in fact he seemed in a jovial mood after the fact made me aware for the first time how rage can be used as a manipulation and control tactic and that it doesn’t have to arise out of genuine anger or hurt. The long self-aggrandizing speech this man then engaged in with me also let me know the degree to which he was willing to make his sense of his own power and worth dependent upon the degree to which he could make others feel powerless and worthless. This man was extremely adept at spotting fairly conscientious individuals in one-down positions in their lives who needed support and were willing to put up with his bullying behavior. He surrounded himself with these types of folks and relished opportunities to terrorize them.

      Understanding the Sadistic Personality

  2. barrisj

    Re: class warfare…American Airlines just gave pilots and cabin crew a well-deserved bump in salaries, but “The Street” is furious! Analysts are pearl-clutching frenetically to urge AA management to sober up, for Christ’ sake, waddya doin’, already! Downgrades everywhere, Mr Market sends his reaction real good…classic line from an unnamed analyst: ” …labor being paid first again” while “shareholders get leftovers.” This after countless rounds of stock buybacks, executive “bonuses”, splurging on aircraft, staff cutbacks, outsourcing, and basically fucking over the paying punters who have to endure cramped seats and zero service aboard their shitty flights. Ah, late capitalism, no limit to its crassness, greed, and total lack of self-regard.

      1. Altandmain

        The US needs a wall for sure …. around the Financial Sector.

        That and no High Frequency Trading. As for the Shareholders getting crumbs … that’s ridiculous when you look at the levels of inequality in the US. The employees are getting the crumbs.

    1. different clue

      Value-makers getting paid ahead of value-takers. Perhaps someone somewhere might adopt that phrase and turn it into fighting words.

  3. diptherio

    Amazon.com, a reseller, told us that we were not allowed to raise the price of our own product for any reason. It was not open for discussion. In fact, the one and only time that anyone at Princeton Audio ever spoke in person to anyone from Amazon.com was the day we ended our relationship with them over the phone. Prior to that, our Amazon buyer had refused to ever reply to any of our questions or requests for support. Like I said, nice folks, huh?

    Wowsers. Readers, have any of you ever experienced this?

    Not personally, but this is not surprising to me in the least and backs up my contention that Amazon is simply the WalMart of the internet. I read some time ago in, iirc, Fast Company, that WalMart required suppliers to lower their prices every time they renewed a contract. And the suppliers had to go along because once you start doing biz with WalMart, they become your largest customer and you probably went into debt to scale up production to meet their demand. And WalMart didn’t negotiate, they demanded. It’s called monopsony power….

    1. LT

      Yeah, and customers really need to be aware. Once all the competition is out of the way, those prices go up. And the customer becomes captive.
      Call all the current Amazon discounts “the bait.”

    2. JustAnObserver

      This and barrisj’s comment/link above re the Street wetting its silks in a hissy fit over American Airlines’ pay raises just add to the immense, tottering, pile of answers to “Why Trump ?”.

      Wonder how long it will be before some “Activist Investor” (aka asset stripping vulture) attempts to have the brave CEO Douglas Parker removed from his post. I never thought I could use `brave’ and `CEO’ in the same sentence, and he may be a total s**t in all other respects, nevertheless credit where due in the interesting times we inhabit.

    3. Huey Long

      This is a page straight out of the Walmart playbook:

      The residents of tiny Wooster, Ohio, also felt negative, if indirect, effects of Wal-Mart’s global reach. Wooster was for decades the home of Rubbermaid, a household name in storage and trash containers. In the early 1990s, Rubbermaid changed its business strategy to reflect the shifting nature of retail sales. It began selling two thirds of its volume to a half-dozen of America’s leading giant retailers. When an increase in its raw material costs forced Rubbermaid to implement a universal retail price hike, Wal-Mart refused the change and dropped most of its Rubbermaid orders. Rubbermaid, never to regain its former strength, sold out to a competitor and closed its Wooster factory once and for all in 2002, eliminating 1,000 jobs from the rural Ohio town.


    4. RickW

      We had the same experience with Amazon and have also severed our relationship with them as a reseller of our products.

    5. Carolinian

      It’s not a secret that Bezos has copied many of Walmart’s business methods. See The Everything Store.

      Still one might ask why a craft audio company is dealing with Amazon in the first place.

      1. MLS

        Still one might ask why a craft audio company is dealing with Amazon in the first place.

        I’m sympathetic to the audio company’s likely reasoning for doing so – it’s a really inexpensive way to get access to a lot more customers. Plainly, it’s probably good for their business (or at least not bad). Until you get to incidents like this, anyway.

      2. different clue

        Probably because the vast majority of thing-buyers go to Amazon firstest of allest, and most of those just stop right there.

        So . . . no Amazon? No exposure.

        Thing-sellers who hope to escape the gravity well of Black Hole Amazon will need enough thing-buyers “out there” to follow what they do and buy enough things to keep those thingmakers in bussiness. Even if Amazon would have sold something similar for a Lower Price.

        1. Procopius

          If your largest customer is paying you less than your cost of goods sold, how do you stay in business anyway? I was told in college, “One way to happiness is to find out what you really love to do and then get so good at it that people will pay you to do it.” That’s fine, but if not enough people are willing to pay, you can only do it by finding another day job and doing it in whatever free time you have left over.

    6. burlesque

      Formerly managed a company that sold products to Amazon.

      Yes, they decide whether to accept price increases. We would turn in price increase paperwork to Amazon along with all the other vendors who sold our products. It would take them months to honor the price increases, which meant that Amazon had the best deal of anyone who sold our products. Of course, they could undercut any other of our product’s vendors by offering the “before the price increase” price.

      They did turn a lot of product for our company so, of course, no one in the company was ever tempted to “cut them off”.

      Impossible to ever talk to anyone at Amazon. All communication was with their people through “Vendor Central”. The majority of Amazon people would respond to emails but their corporate structure and processes insured that there was much distance between buyer, Amazon and seller, our company.

      Personally, I buy direct from any company that sells products online, even if the price is higher. In reality a few dollars means more to a company directly selling their products online than those few dollars will ever mean to Amazon.

  4. allan

    U.S. Signals Possible Airstrikes in Somalia by Asking Aid Groups for Their Locations [Intercept]

    U.S. officials this week requested the geographic coordinates of aid groups working in Somalia, according to a document obtained by The Intercept — a move that could indicate an escalation of military action against the Shabab. The notice to NGOs comes a month after President Trump declared portions of the country an “area of active hostilities,” giving the military wider scope to launch strikes that could potentially kill more civilians.

    “Due to the need for increased operational security in Somalia, and based on best practices in other complex emergencies, humanitarian and development organizations may want to provide information about their fixed locations in Somalia for deconfliction,” states the letter, written by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and intended for “all international and local humanitarian and development organizations with operations in Somalia.” …

    “May want to”.

    Doubling down on the non-interventionist foreign policy.
    How’s that infrastructure plan going?
    Admittedly, munitions expenditures could be counted as stimulus,
    but with a force multiplier rather than an economic multiplier effect.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          So “conflict” (war) is now the normal default state and we had to invent a word for when it (temporarily) stops.
          Seems to me we already had a word for the normal and certainly most desirable state of affairs: “peace”.

  5. giantsquid

    Not surprising, in context, but exposure to vegetation also seems to have health benefits for men:

    Residential greenness and risk of prostate cancer: A case-control study in
    Montreal, Canada

    “Conclusion: Men living in greener areas, either recently or about a decade earlier, had lower risks of prostate cancer, independently of socio-demographic and lifestyle factors.”


    1. allan

      It’s pretty funny that the study linked to by Lambert came out of Harvard, given this:

      Doctors say fight for the ‘soul’ of Children’s Hospital isn’t over
      [Boston Globe]

      Tucked up and away from the medical-industrial complex along Longwood Avenue, a lovely oasis of green at Boston Children’s Hospital is decked out in holiday splendor this week. And yet, there is a pall over the place.

      It looks like this is the last Christmas for the Prouty Garden, a 23,000-square-foot jewel of quiet nooks, decorative fountains, and a soaring dawn redwood tree about to be bulldozed to make way for more private rooms, a heart center, and a new neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s.

      Hospital administrators say alternatives have been studied, other options weighed. If we want to remain a leader in pediatrics, they say, this is what we must do. …


      The story is from 2 years ago. Does anybody know how it turned out?

        1. allan

          Ugh. There seems to be a photo of the metasequoia‘s corpse being trucked away
          on the Dec. 15 blog post. And from the Jan. 20 entry:

          Yesterday, the core members of the Friends of the Prouty Garden had a long conference call, the main questions of which were: where do we stand now, and where do we go from here?

          We have been quiet for some time now. December was a hard month for us. As most of you probably know, the Hospital administration decided to cut down the Dawn Redwood tree in early December. This was a symbolic and unnecessary move, as the Hospital doesn’t plan to break ground until the Spring. They were sending a message. …

          Thank you for the link, cocomaan.

    2. Chris

      The reality may be a little more prosaic, and less Gaia-focused:

      1. Rich people live longer
      2. Rich people live in the nicest place they can afford
      3. Rich people like greenery

      Association is not causation.

      1. giantsquid

        Well, yes and no. In this kind of study, there will almost always be confounding factors to consider, and, in fact, the authors took into consideration such things as income and education in their analysis of the data they collected. They did find that sociodemographics factors such as these had an impact on their analysis, lessening the apparent degree of correlation. However, after adjusting analysis to take into account these effects, they still found that exposure to vegetation led to significantly less risk of prostate cancer “independently of socio-demographic and lifestyle factors” as they note in their conclusion.

  6. Grizziz

    Re: Chelsea and Cosmo.
    While the author claims misogyny as the root of Chelsea’s criticism, the subhead uses “pedigree” and thereby intimates that Chelsea is a product of artificial selection. Is breeding to lead the new cure for the Democratic Party malaise?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Pedigre used by the Acela class is a reference to upbringing and education, not genetics. Even though Chelsea has done nothing with the Pedigree except grift.

      1. Marina Bart

        The kind of people who use “pedigree” in relation to class status would not deem Chelsea as having a pedigree. From their point of view, she has nothing. Her paternal grandparents were rogues and criminals, were they not? Her maternal grandparents were an orphan and a member of the petite bourgeoisie. That’s not much of a pedigree, from their point of view.

        1. ambrit

          It’s interesting how the generation or two separating a “pedigreed” patrician from the “rogues and criminals” who made the fortunes that support said patrician’s “upper class” lifestyles makes all the difference.

          1. Marina Bart

            I’ve actually been thinking about that, as I watch the new aristocracy supplanting the old one in real time.

            Separate from all the snobbery and power games, it does make a kind of sense. It’s sort of like how most small businesses fail in three years. Clawing your way into the ruling class is hard, but staying there is harder. The entrenched aristocracy may treat New Money like crap, but they also feast on it. They sell their daughters to it to maintain their baronial keep, they eat well at New Money dinner parties, they keep their status signalling arts organizations funded without having to use much of their own funds, etc.

            They can run this play again and again, because most New Money families wash out after a generation or two, for a bunch of different reasons.

            And you can sort of see it in action with Chelsea. She and her husband are apparently both profoundly incompetent yet entitled. The Clintons have no lands or continuing business operations. They’re just influence peddlers. Their power and status relies on that, plus stored wealth. But the stored wealth is mostly zeros and ones tucked in a computer somewhere. If anything disrupts that storage, that’s it. Her class position could vanish overnight. Does she strike you as the kind of resilient, tactically savvy person who could rebuild the family’s fortunes through her own initiative? Great families do a good job of creating a family culture that helps its members sustain their class position through set-backs, as well as having a basis to their wealth that’s usually pretty tangible. The Percys wouldn’t still be the Percys if they hadn’t been charged with protecting the English King from Scottish invasion and delivering on that duty very successfully over hundreds of years. That was real work, of a very specific and challenging kind. The Clintons needed to marry Chelsea into an existing family with real assets, but they couldn’t pull it off. That’s something Trump did a much better job with. Ivanka marrying into the Kushner empire is how that’s supposed go. (Still New Money, mind you; my grandmother would have refused to speak to any of them socially. But that’s how New Money becomes Old Money.)

    2. John Wright

      What would be very interesting to hear is Chelsea Clinton’s position on

      1. Her mother’s AUMF Iraq War vote and vote AGAINST the Levin amendment that would have pursued a diplomatic solution.
      2. Her mother’s and father’s support of NAFTA
      3. Her father’s support of repealing Glass-Steagall, which helped unleash the financial meltdown.
      4. Her mother’s support of removing Gaddafi in Libya and destabilizing the region
      5. Her mother’s actions in Honduras
      6. Her mother’s actions in the Ukraine and inflaming Russia.
      7. What Chelsea thinks about her mother’s recent campaign for presidency, losing while spending 2x as much as Trump..
      8. Her mother’s lucrative speechifying to the wealthy and connected and how that might be viewed unfavorably

      Instead we learn of Chelsea’s “recent advocacy for equal pay”, as if that is a courageous, thoughtful position, that she arrived at recently after years of education..

      One can argue that Chelsea SHOULD be expected to capably field tough questions after earning degrees at Stanford and Oxford and growing up in the Clinton family..

      We should hold Chelsea to a very high standard as she has had every advantage.
      While defending Chelsea as “accomplished”, Jill FIlipovic seems to expect little of substance from Chelsea Clinton.

    3. Pat

      The author also does not examine the situation where it was described that Chelsea could not be interrupted – her new position was at NBC in a job where she had no experience. Let me repeat that, NO experience. She failed to recognize that she had been hired to be the public face in a position where she was by all rights a talking head and still wanted to be the smartest girl in the room. She did not understand that her last name was her only asset in these circumstances. She did this instead of being a really smart person, who would figure out who were the most knowledgable and experienced people she was working with and letting them talk so she could learn the ropes. None of this is to say she couldn’t have an opinion on the stories to cover, but clearly the best way to gather the info, frame the story and how best to deal with the camera were all outside her experience. And also clearly they couldn’t ever get her to learn how to do those things. The real question is: Did Chelsea really want the job in order to accomplish any of her supposed public goals or did she resent like hell that they actually expected her to do the job and not just get a big paycheck for nothing? Because if it was the former she screwed up a golden opportunity to have an ongoing platform to expand things she supposedly wants to do. If it was the latter, she managed it perfectly because her work was so bad they limited her appearances, downplayed her stories and didn’t renew what was basically a huge waste of their money.

      This isn’t about misogyny, this is about Clinton incompetence being blamed on something else, yet again. Like mother, like daughter.

  7. nowhere

    Re: The Week

    This brings us to the real problem with Donald Trump’s tax cut plan.

    All borrowing financed by money creation is not created equal. Depending on how it’s designed, it might drive us towards full employment, or it might not. If the government pumped that new money into a big expansion of aid to the poor, for example, it would increase aggregate demand and drive businesses to hire more. A big new industrial policy on something like infrastructure or clean energy would create millions of new jobs directly. Both policies would definitely push the economy towards full capacity.

    But Trump’s tax cuts would flow overwhelmingly into the pockets of the already wealthy. That’s much more likely to just swell the savings glut still further, and keep interest rates depressed. So Trump’s plan will make inequality much worse, and almost certainly prove useless as far as job creation goes.

    This seems to be the core of most of Trump’s plans. He is shaping up to being a garden variety neoliberal, just like the rest of the den of viperidae (used as a colloquialism, not to disparage an evolutionarily advanced family of animals).

    1. Huey Long

      Trumpster’s shaping up to be the GOP Obama; he acts as a ward healer for the base while the blob keeps on chugging away with the neolib policy agenda.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s not clear to me how Trump voters will react if — more likely, when* — his equivalent of Obamas’s betrayal on “hope and change” becomes evident; my guess is that they’ll be less docile than Obama’s voters were.

        * No wall, no jobs “brought back”

        1. Jess

          That’s what I’ve been saying all along: the people who voted for him want and expect action and they’re going to be plenty unruly when that doesn’t happen. Interestingly, I think Trump will bear a good deal of the heat but much of it will also be directed at Congresscritters as well. And that’s where it could get really interesting.

          1. ambrit

            I expect virtual Town Hall meetings to become the new standard in “civic engagement” soon. (Strictly from a security standpoint of course. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.)

        2. Huey Long

          Allow me put on my tinfoil hat for a moment…

          DHS purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammo a few years back. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2013/03/11/1-6-billion-rounds-of-ammo-for-homeland-security-its-time-for-a-national-conversation/#6d59532624bb)

          Local PD’s are getting MRAPs (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/08/new-documents-reveal-fearmongering-local-cops-use-score-military-gear-pentagon) and have been getting lots of other military hardware from the feds for the past two decades via the 1033 program (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1033_program).

          Perhaps the blob has been preparing for an armed revolt out in flyover country for awhile now, no?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Not sure if Pinellas County,FL is Flyover, but the county cops have MRAPs/Buffalos and all kinds of weaponry. I got a bit of a shock driving to work to see a pair of them driving up 49th Street, turn right on 140th Ave toward where I worked, and then turn off toward the county garage by the airport.

            Pinellas County, what used to be called “God’s Waiting Room…” lots of dangerous revolutionaries here, like the local Democrat Club, straight Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

            Brought back memories of lining up to load up the C-130s to go beat down and shoot up insurrectionists in Chicago, 1968. No, we have Frreeeeedom, in this great country that we thought was “ours…”

          2. Ptolemy Philopater

            For any revolution to succeed, the police and army have to turn on the ruling class. I see little evidence of that, witness the police reaction to Occupy Wall Street. The ruling class is very careful to pamper the police, large donations to the PBA. Wall Street showers the police with contributions. Mayor Bloomberg bragged that he had the 4th largest army in the world.

            Walker in Wisconsin made sure that the Police Unions were not denied binding arbitration like the rest of the Public Service Unions. The Police in urban areas are guaranteed great pensions. The elites will demonize the disenfranchised as in those dirty hippies at Occupy Wall Street or as in Hillary Clinton’s “those deplorables” It is no coincidence that racists are recruited. The police forces are probably the most important segment of society to educate about the power structure in this country. But once the police turn, all that military equipment will sure come in handy.

        3. John k

          Dems are counting on just that. No need to move left, can comfortably kick progressives because everybody will realize whichever neolib they run is absolutely the lesser evil.
          Only way out of this flipping box is third party. And the country hasn’t been this ready for progressive change you can believe in since 1931.

  8. Huey Long

    RE: How Dare Chelsea Clinton, a Well-Educated, Accomplished Woman, Share Her Opinions

    Yes, Chelsea is a child of immense privilege. For her, politics is the family business — perhaps one she shouldn’t go into (or maybe one she should; her last name shouldn’t earn her any advantage but neither should it be disqualifying). But why the preemptive smack-down?

    Ummmm, Shrub? Gore? Jeb? Her Mother?

    Four great reasons to preemptively smack Chelsea down.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Every time she’s acted as a campaign surrogate, her sense of entitlement and snobbery has been vividly apparent, and a political disaster.

    2. tony

      Chelsea “had a tendency to talk a lot, and at length, not least about Chelsea,” writes T. A. Frank in Vanity Fair. “But you couldn’t interrupt, not even if you’re on TV at NBC, where she was earning $600,000 a year at the time.”

      This is why she is so inane, and this is how you get demented elites. Everything they say must be treated as insightful, all their deeds exceptional. There is no feedback to them, and there is no way to take them down replace them with useful people.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Time to break out this again, from Thomas Frank in Harpers:

        Everyone strode with polished informality about the stage, reading their lines from an invisible tele­prompter. And back and forth, the presenters called out to one another in tones of supportiveness and sweet flattery.

        In her introduction to the event, for example, the TV star America Ferrera, who has appeared at many Clinton events both philanthropic and political, gave a shout-out to the “incredible women who have brought us all here today” and the “amazing girls” whose conversation she had been permitted to join. Then Chelsea Clinton, who announced herself “completely awed” by the “incredible swell of people and partners” who had participated in some event the previous day, invited us to hearken to the “inspiring voices of leaders, of communities, of companies, of countries.”

        Those were just the first few minutes. It kept on like that for hours. When someone’s “potential” was mentioned, it was described as “boundless.” People’s “stories” were “compelling” when they weren’t “inspiring,” “incredible,” or “incredibly inspiring.” A Kenyan activist was introduced as “the incomparable.”

        Worth reading in full…

  9. Mark P.

    Lambert wrote: “[A] few companies are getting closer to mass production of higher-order tissues (bone, cartilage, organs) and other individually tailored items, including implants … Reading the story, it’s not clear how close “getting closer” really is. I’m unsure whether I should file this under The Bezzle, or not.’

    Regenerative medicine — or directed organogenesis — is closer than you might think. But my guess is, it’ll not much effect the broader healthcare market and the available options there before 2025-2030, though there’ll be a few investors in some of the companies who’ll also be early adopters. (It’s good to be rich.) And yes, there’s simultaneously a definite element of Bezzle there — google the name Liz Parrish, for instance.

    But in general the technologies for regenerative medicine are real if still emerging. In fact, where they’ll make their first market impact is with synthetic meat, not healthcare, and probably circa. 2021. See —

    Lab grown meat prices have dropped 30,000 times in less than four years and are about 3-4 times more expensive than regular ground beef

    More specifically, much depends on just which organ you’re trying to grow. Forex, a vagina (a hollow tube of tissue) is easier to grow than a penis (lots of specialized working tissues). But both have already been accomplished and four girls got lab-grown vaginas implanted as far back as 2005-2008, though it was only reported in 2014 once it was proven that they’d worked out.

    Laboratory-Grown Vaginas Implanted in Patients, Scientists Report

    And in turn just as lab-grown penises are harder than vaginas, lab-grown hearts — with all the working, specific tissues there — are far harder yet.

      1. Mark P.

        I think they made a movie about that too…

        Nah. In terms of SF Dystopias 101, you have some homework to do, my friend.

        SOYLENT GREEN is made of real people.

        Synthetic meat, conversely, would be Chicken Little in THE SPACE MERCHANTS.

        1. Huey Long


          Thanks Mark, you made me laugh pretty hard!

          My favorite dystopia to date:

          Parts: The Clonus Horror

        2. makedoanmend

          I demand the Irish nation be given the patent for soylent green:

          “A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick,[1] commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Swift suggests that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocked heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as British policy toward the Irish in general.”


          go raibh maith agat

    1. giantsquid

      If they are actually able to develop a plant-based alternative to the fetal calf serum currently used in the media in which they grow synthetic meat, I’ll be extremely surprised.

    2. Marina Bart

      It sounds like Katya’s cyborg vagina from Archer would be far superior to a lab-grown one for all concerned.

      Aaaaannnnnddddd….on that note, I’m getting to work, Lambert, in case you see this.

  10. dcblogger

    a super market tabloid informs me that Hillary is the REAL Russian agent. #PoeticJustice

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Sounds legit. She is the one most responsible for getting Trump elected, just like the Russkies wanted.

    2. Ptolemy Philopater

      She’s also responsible for approving the sale of 1/5 of all uranium production in the US to Russia.

  11. Carolinian

    Mike Whitney on Putin, the adult in the room.

    This is the first time I’ve seen the current wave of social turbulence traced back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but it makes perfect sense. Western elites saw the breakup of the USSR as a greenlight to maniacally pursue their own global agenda and impose their neoliberal economic model on the world, a process that greatly accelerated following 9-11. The terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers became the seminal event that triggered the curtailing of civil liberties, the enhancing of executive powers and the beginning of a global war of terror. Unconstrained by any serious rival, Washington felt free to impose its corporate-friendly system on the world, redraw the map of the Middle East, occupy countries in Central Asia, and topple secular regimes wherever it went. The triumphalism of western capitalism was summarized in the jubilant words of President George H. W. Bush who stated in 1990 before the launching of Desert Storm: (From now on) “what we say, goes”. The pronouncement was an unambiguous statement of Washington’s determination to rule the world and establish a new order.


    1. Huey Long

      Carolinian, thanks for the link!

      More from Putin:

      Yes, formally speaking, modern countries have all the attributes of democracy: Elections, freedom of speech, access to information, freedom of expression. But even in the most advanced democracies the majority of citizens have no real influence on the political process and no direct and real influence on power….

      It seems as if the elites do not see the deepening stratification in society and the erosion of the middle class…(but the situation) creates a climate of uncertainty that has a direct impact on the public mood.

      Sociological studies conducted around the world show that people in different countries and on different continents tend to see the future as murky and bleak. This is sad. The future does not entice them, but frightens them. At the same time, people see no real opportunities or means for changing anything, influencing events and shaping policy.

      As for the claim that the fringe and populists have defeated the sensible, sober and responsible minority – we are not talking about populists or anything like that but about ordinary people, ordinary citizens who are losing trust in the ruling class. That is the problem….

      People sense an ever-growing gap between their interests and the elite’s vision of the only correct course, a course the elite itself chooses. The result is that referendums and elections increasingly often create surprises for the authorities. People do not at all vote as the official and respectable media outlets advised them to, nor as the mainstream parties advised them to. Public movements that only recently were too far left or too far right are taking center stage and pushing the political heavyweights aside.

      At first, these inconvenient results were hastily declared anomaly or chance. But when they became more frequent, people started saying that society does not understand those at the summit of power and has not yet matured sufficiently to be able to assess the authorities’ labor for the public good. Or they sink into hysteria and declare it the result of foreign, usually Russian, propaganda.” (Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club)

  12. Oregoncharles

    ” the newly created money inevitably chase the same amount of goods and services that existed before. And that’s what causes prices to rise.””
    What if production is resource-limited – which I think it now is? Then you’re pumping more air into the balloon. This might be the dark side of MMT, or any Keynesian approach.

    And very generally: money is an abstraction, so it can increase without limit. That’s why economists prefer to look at mostly just money. But the economy is real, consisting of real goods and people, dependent on real resources. Even the “digital” economy consists of real electrons and silica. So it’s limited.

    So you have an unlimited supply matching up to a limited one: the formula for inflation, and the reason it’s a perpetual problem. Actually, it’s very odd that inflation is so hard to achieve lately.

    1. reslez

      Odd that cutting wages and precarious employment doesn’t cause inflation, yes what a head scratcher. I think only economists find this a mystery. The Fed looks like King Canute, but it seems they’ve finally realized they can’t create inflation with what they’re doing. Only 10 years past the crisis and they’ve begun talking about fiscal measures. Of course, Trump bought into austerity talk and deficit fears (“oh God, how do we ‘pay for’ health care that costs 2/3rds less?”). That means no fiscal measures and the economy will continue to strangle. There aren’t enough dollars in the hands of people who want to spend it. All the dollars are in the hands of people who play speculation games and PE folks who specialize in corporate vivisection.

      Production is resource-limited — all thinking people understand this, which excludes economists (they believe in infinite growth). But it’s a mystery whether we actually have any resource limitations in our economy that would prevent us from reaching full employment. We don’t know and it will never be tried under the current crowd, who will resort to any means to remain in power.

      * By “economists” I’m excluding people from UKMC and their friends

    2. Mel

      There are two different ways to look at price increases. Say the price of oatmeal doubles. You can look at this in two different ways:
      1) The Inflationary Way: Oatmeal costs twice as much as it used to.
      2) The Non-Inflationary Way: I have the opportunity to eat oatmeal that’s twice as valuable as the oatmeal I used to eat.
      This economy is funneling money to people who look at their asset purchases using look #2. 36,000 Dow? Not inflationary at all. Just good, solid value

  13. Huey Long

    RE: DHL Pilots

    How far will job crapification be allowed to go I wonder?

    I understand that with low level service sector jobs, they can treat employees like absolute garbage with the consequences being confined to stores getting crappy, poor sales, and scathing yelp reviews. My concern is that they’re now crapifying jobs such as cargo pilots, where a screw-up could result in a cargo jet taking out a school full of children.

    Remember the old eastern bloc joke: “They pretend to pay us; we pretend to work?”

    Do we really want the guys who build and fix the highways and rail road tracks pretending to work?

    Or the school bus mechanics?

    How about the guys/gals who run the power plants, and who maintain the power transmission infrastructure?

    And lets not forget the nuclear power plant operators and maintenance staff!

    I could go on, and on, and on, but I think I made my point; there is a hard limit to job crapification and I really am hoping that as a society we come to our senses before we have rolling brown outs, exploding nuke plants, and other calamities stemming from workers in crapified jobs pretending to work.

    1. reslez

      > Remember the old eastern bloc joke: “They pretend to pay us; we pretend to work?”

      At least in the eastern bloc the people had jobs and a free place to live. That’s more than people here.

      And yes, it’s terrifying to consider the way airlines outsource their maintenance to South America. The mechanics can’t even read the repair manuals.

      1. Ptolemy Philopater

        Yes in the eastern bloc they had subsidized housing, free education, free medical care, green urban environments, rational work culture, low cost entertainment venues, cheap vodka and no vain glorious billionaires polluting the culture. So you roll up some newspaper to use as toilet paper.

    2. Altandmain

      That has already happened. In 2009, an aircraft flying for a now defunct Colgan Air crashed. The pilot failed several FAA check rides. The company pilot was making less than 16000 USD a year.

      Look up Colgan Air Flight 3407.

      If you read up the business practices of these regional airlines, it will make your blood pressure go up.

    1. Darius

      It’s a Kwanzan double-flowering cherry tree. The flowers always remind me of scoops of strawberry ice cream.

      1. Harold

        I love these trees with their little tutus. I often idly think they should have planted some at Lincoln Center.

  14. JustAnObserver

    Re Quartz on DHL:

    A German company now considers the US as a source of sweatshop labor. Descent into banana republic status is now complete.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Another day, another record in the Nasdaq 100 glamour stock index.

    It was Groundhog Day for the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse: just like yesterday, Apple languished in its mono no aware [“pathos of things”] moment, as the realization dawns that it’s a long way around the silver spaceship.

    But a fresh nosegay of records was handed out by the other four dauntless equestrians. Alphabet ripped like a wolverine on acid after earnings surprised. Here’s the gripping chart, comparing the Fab Five to SPY, an S&P 500 tracker:


    1. reslez

      How strange to think the iPhone is 10 years old. How will all those Millennials and Xers maintain their self-image? You can’t be a cutting edge techie warrior when your “hot new” gadget hasn’t materially changed in a decade. I think it’s pretty indisputable we’ve entered a period of stagnation. No antitrust enforcement in 15 years — we’re paying the price.

      The only reason we got the web is because David Boies went after Microsoft before Bill Gates could strangle it in its cradle.

      Those tech companies better hurry it up with the flying cars and sex bots. They can only point at plastic WiFi-enabled fitness bracelets and bluetooth juice machines for so long. All the smart people in Silicon Valley are stuck working on better ways to spy on their customers and sell them ads. That is not innovation.

  16. ewmayer

    o “The Democrat establishment has already given its answer: That’s why Clinton supporter and #MedicareForAll hater Ossoff has $8 million dollars to appeal to suburban Repubicans in Geogia 6” — You mean the same Ossoff endorsed by none other than Bernie Sanders, yes? Though BS withheld from calling Ossoff “a progressive”, so take that, Mr. neolib douchebag! Such a less-than-full-throated endorsement will surely do much to ‘revolution’ the Dem party from within! /sarc

    o Re. tissue-enginering unicorns: “Reading the story, it’s not clear how close “getting closer” really is.” — Well, if I go out at night and wait until M31 is roughly overhead, and then jump as high as I can, I “am getting closer to becoming the first human to reach the Andromeda galaxy.” What do I win?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I do. People forget that Sanders is a politician, and a rather successful one, which is exactly what we want. I don’t have any objection to dragging him left, because he’s working hard on dragging everything to the right of him, which is pretty much everything, left.

      Sanders is relentlessly on message, which is spreading the word on his program as broadly as possible, to as many classes and jurisdictions as possible. If nuking Ossoff gets in the way of that, he’s not gonna nuke Ossoff. That doesn’t prevent anybody else from trying to.

      1. johnnygl

        Bernie’s ‘meh’ endorsement of ossoff was perfect. He keeps the establishment mildly annoyed at him, but doesn’t give his worst critics very much to work with.

        Ossof is better than a repub, but nothing to get excited about. Sanders immediately moved on to campaigning for candidates he likes better.

        If bernie REFUSED to endorse, then there would have been howls accusing him of helping repubs. Instead, his critics look petty for saying he didn’t endorse HARD enough.

        It was politically astute and let him get back on message.

  17. rjs

    re: “Consumer spending rose at only 0.3 percent which is by far the worst showing since no change in fourth-quarter 2009”

    to say that without clarification exhibits a lack of understanding of the metric…consumer spending grew at a 2.7% rate in current dollars in the 1st quarter, which became a 0.3% real growth rate of consumed goods and services after the annualized 2.4% personal consumption expenditures price index increase was used to adjust that spending for inflation…

    the word “real” is used in national accounts releases to indicate that each change has been adjusted for inflation using price changes chained from 2009….all percentage changes in the GDP report are calculated from those adjusted 2009 dollar figures, which would be better thought of as a quantity indexes than as any reality based dollar amounts…

  18. thoughtful person

    “Amazon.com was the day we ended our relationship with them over the phone. Prior to that, our Amazon buyer had refused to ever reply to any of our questions or requests for support. Like I said, nice folks, huh?

    Wowsers. Readers, have any of you ever experienced this?”

    Yes, I sell to amazon. This is exactly what they have told us. Right now our contract is under review and they insist on more discounts. We loose money or possibly break even as things are, due to them foisting all kinds of extra accounting and labeling work no other customer expects. Then there are piles of deductions on every shipment.

    So we are refusing any extra discounts! We’ll see…

  19. robnume

    I am at the point in my life where all of my millennial children are beginning to have children, thus making me a very happy grandma. Becoming a grandmother has changed the way I buy things now. I called Amazon months ago and cancelled my account with them and I have vowed that if I have to spend even $20.00 more for a product at a “physically present” retail store it’ll be worth it just to keep, hopefully, a few people gainfully employed.
    Folks aren’t understanding that we can only act as individuals to help those around us. Collectivism is nice and certainly ideal but unless and until we change our own individual habits and desires, nothing will change for the better for mankind and these damned neolibcons will “kill” us all off whether they actually mean to or not.
    Or, maybe, I’m just getting old. That’s my two cents for the day.

  20. George Phillies

    Returning to a prior post someplace, Obama just collected another $400,000 reports TheHill.com

    “Former President Barack Obama reportedly made $400,000 for an appearance and interview last week at an A&E Networks advertising event.”

    Of course, this is chump change relative to his book deal.

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